THE CONSTRUCTION of the University’s first satellite campus in Mindanao is again on hold due to pending documents regarding the conversion of its site from an agricultural land to an institutional land.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has yet to approve another permit that will allow the further development of the satellite campus in an 82-hectare land in General Santos (Gen San) City, encompassing two barangays: Ligaya and Katangawan.

DAR first approved the conversion of the land in 2003 and issued another order in 2008, extending the development period of the site until 2013.

The order expired last July 22, 2013, putting the construction of the UST Gen San campus on hold. The land is currently planted with coconut trees as part of the University’s project on virgin coconut oil.

Meanwhile, the current city government of Gen San expressed its support for the establishment of the satellite campus, but Mayor Ronel Rivera said “some national agencies are yet to act on UST’s application for conversion.”

“My administration will not stand in the way in providing and accessing quality education for all residents of the city,” Rivera said during his State of the City Address last Aug. 5.

The city council of Gen San, under Rivera, approved the change in the zoning classification of the property to institutional from agricultural last Oct. 8, 2013 through City Ordinance no. 15 s. 2013. However, the construction cannot proceed until the University gets another approval from DAR.

UST bought the land for P96 million in 1997 but lacked support from then city officials, which obstructed the progress of the project.

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The initial budget for the construction of the satellite campus is P200 million, allotting P60 million for the road network alone.

The UST Gen San campus will offer programs not available in its main campus, including marine sciences and agriculture courses. Bachelor in Secondary Education (major in English, Math, and Science), Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology, Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, Bachelor of Science in Entertainment and Multimedia Computing, and Bachelor of Science in Tourism will also be offered. Roberto A. Vergara, Jr.

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